Friday, December 2, 2011

Trying to Enthuse About Romney

The brilliant Charles Krauthammer has done what no one heretofore has been able to do:  convince me that the Republican nominee must be Mitt Romney for the sake of our country.

Krauthammer compares the strengths and weaknesses of Romney against the latest non-Romney, Newt Gingrich, and concludes with evident reluctance that it must be Mitt -- and this without even mentioning Newt's personal baggage.

Listen to how Krauthammer distills the difference between the two front-runners:

Two ideologically problematic finalists: One is a man of center-right temperament who has of late adopted a conservative agenda. The other is a man more conservative by nature but possessed of an unbounded need for grand display that has already led him to unconservative places even he is at a loss to explain, and that as president would leave him in constant search of the out-of-box experience — the confoundedly brilliant Nixon-to-China flipperoo regarding his fancy of the day, be it health care, taxes, energy, foreign policy, whatever.

I recently spoke with someone who served in Congress with Gingrich who described Gingrich as a "high wire act."  Even in the Republican caucus, members held their breath, not knowing what Gingrich would do next -- but certain that it would make for big headlines.

With Romney, on the other hand, we know what we are getting: a moderate Northeastern Republican a la Nelson Rockefeller.  We might not like it, but we know what to expect.

As Krauthammer points out, it is Gingrich's "need for the grand display" based on his own certainty of his brilliance -- his narcissism -- that makes Gingrich a dangerous bet for conservatives. That's assuming he could get elected, which Krauthammer doubts given the stench of lobbying for Freddie Mae and Mac that accompanies Gingrich.

My sense of foreboding about Romney has nothing to do with his character, his intellect or his religion.  I just fear that he will join the growing list of "moderates" that Republicans keep nominating in a vain attempt to appeal to independents:  Gerald Ford; George H.W. Bush after we "read his lips"; Bob Dole; John McCain.  Mitt Romney fits more comfortably in that list than he does in the much shorter list:  George W. Bush; Ronald Reagan, who made no apologies about their adherence to conservatism and were rewarded with election.

It is unfortunate that the choice has come down to Mitt vs. Newt.  Mitch Daniels could have won this election. He would have been a superb president. Perhaps he still will be, one day.

But here is the danger.  Even if a Mitch Daniels or Paul Ryan gets elected in 2016, if Obama has been reelected, this country may no longer be recognizable in 2016.  It will be too late.

You play the hand you’re dealt. This is a weak Republican field with two significantly flawed front-runners contesting an immensely important election. If Obama wins, he will take the country to a place from which it will not be able to return (which is precisely his own objective for a second term).

Every conservative has thus to ask himself two questions: Who is more likely to prevent that second term? And who, if elected, is less likely to unpleasantly surprise?

No comments: